One would have thought that from the very first inaugural running of the Toyota Racing Series back in 2005, Australian drivers would have embraced what has now become a key Formula category in single seater racing. In fact, it has bewildered many that Australian motorsport did not take up the option of running a similar series resulting in now not having a single seater pathway for young drivers after Formula Ford.
It was Michelin tyre supplier Trevor Schumack who introduced the first Australian drivers in the third TRS season (2006/07) with his European Technique team. David Besnard, Tim Slade, Barton Maw competed in just one round each while Lucas Dumbrell stayed for two and Leanne Tander for three.
In the 2007/08 it was just Nathan Antunes that crossed the ditch finishing in 14th position. He was joined in the 2008/09 season by current Supercars driver Scott Pye who finished third overall.
It wasn’t until 2017 that Australian Thomas Randle won the title with Victory Motor Racing team. Randle wasn’t new to TRS having finished tenth in 2015 with European Technique and competed in one round the following year, switching to Victory.
2017 was a competitive year with a full field of 20 drivers. Randle beat Brazilian Pedro Piquet by just five points with Red Bull Junior driver Richard Vershoor in third ahead of first Kiwi home Marcus Armstrong.
Fifth was the returning Indian driver Jehan Daruvala who again won the Lady Wigram Trophy race at the opening round in Christchurch. His only other race win that season was the prestigious New Zealand Grand Prix.
Again the Toyota Racing Series showed the importance of not only finishing but having consistent top results. Vershoor led most of the series and finished on the podium seven times, the same number as Randle, but with a high number of race wins, three to two.
Second overall Pedro Piquet finished on the podium eight times with three race wins as well.
Randles advantage was that he never finished lower than seventh while Piquet finished 17th in race 2 in Christchurch and Vershoor recorded a 16th place at Hampton Downs.
In 2018 Randle made the switch to tin-tops competing in the Super2 Series support category to the Virgin Australian Supercars Championship finishing 11th overall.
Overall 2017 TRS Points
1/ Thomas Randle 855
2/ Pedro Piquet 850
3/ Richard Verschoor 843
4/ Marcus Armstrong 792
5/ Jehan Daruvala 781
6/ Enaam Ahmed 586
7/ Taylor Cockerton 574
8/ Ferdinand Habsburg 552
9/ Brendon Leitch 502
10/ Kami Laliberté 498
11/ Keyvan Andres Soori 423
12/ Shelby Blackstock 421
13/ Luis Leeds 419
14/ Christian Hahn 372
15/ Harry Hayek 363
16/ Ameya Vaidyanathan 358
17/ Thomas Neubauer 308
18/ Nikita Lastochkin 263
19/ Jean Baptiste Simmenauer 248
20/ Kory Enders 192